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Wikipedia, the online user-written encyclopaedia that has come under fire for inaccuracies, is to introduce a more traditional fixed version of its contents in an effort to increase its reliability.
Under the existing system, anyone can edit and change articles at any time, leaving the website reference work open to abuse.
But Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia’s founder, said a new “stable” version of the reference would be added to the site and audited to ensure its accuracy.
The current, changing version of the encyclopaedia – which will remain available to users – is reliant on its outside readers to catch inaccuracies and correct them.
“What we are doing in the long run is pursuing a model of having stable versions and live versions,” Mr Wales said in an interview with the Financial Times.
“The stable version will have been reviewed so we can say we have some confidence in that – it would be an integrated part of the website.”
Mr Wales is also planning to require those who want to create new entries on the live version to register first. He said he hoped users would not draw broad conclusions from a handful of mistakes in 850,000 articles.
The criticisms of Wikipedia’s accuracy were heightened last month when John Siegenthaler, a former USA Today editor and aide to Robert Kennedy, strongly criticised the reference site when his entry was modified to implicate him in the assassinations of Mr Kennedy and his brother, President John F. Kennedy.
Adam Curry, a prime mover in another internet trend – podcasting – was also recently exposed as modifying the Wikipedia entry on the subject to play down the role of others in developing downloadable audio. Mr Curry later apologised.